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THE

State Employees Association of North Carolina, SEIU Local 2008 P.O. Drawer 27727, Raleigh, NC • www.seanc.org 800-222-2758 • 919-833-6436 • Circulation 55,000

July 2012

• Vol. 30, Issue 8

State Halts Inmate Health Care Privatization Victory for Working Families, Taxpayers and Public Safety by

Cary Edgar

On May 24, SEANC gained a victory for members, families and taxpayers by successfully defeating an attempt by the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to privatize the jobs of 2,000 state prison health care workers. Opposing privatization is SEANC’s No. 1 policy platform objective, as voted on by the 2011 convention delegates. Earlier this year, DPS issued a request for proposals for companies that would privatize inmate health care – a move that surprised legislators. If DPS had Columbia who have learned hard lessons succeeded in their plan, thousands of about the dangers of privatizing inmate state employees would have lost health care, including pay-to-play campaign their jobs. contributions, unsafe Privatizin SEANC has been fighting g prisons and lawsuits. State Pris on this privatization effort for After reading SEANC’s Health Ca re months, holding forums report, legislators with correctional personnel understood the across the state and talking to importance of slowing legislative leaders about the down the privatization A Prescrip dangers of privatizing these train. They were especially Making Ta tion for xpayers Si ck jobs. concerned about how Spring 20 12 To educate legislators, wasteful privatization SEANC published a scathing would have been with 68-page report detailing the pitfalls taxpayers’ money. of privatizing inmate health care. The When the issue came up for discussion report, titled “Privatizing State Prison on the floor of the General Assembly, Health Care: A Prescription for Making legislators unanimously voted to halt the Taxpayers Sick,” was given to every privatization effort during the 2011-2013 member of the General Assembly by biennium as part of a Medicaid fix bill. SEANC lobbyists and leaders. You can The bill went straight to Gov. Beverly read the report at http://bit.ly/KK4e87. Perdue’s desk and she signed it into law The report detailed cautionary tales on May 24. from 33 states and the District of The efforts to halt this privatization State Em

ployees

Association

of North

Carolina

PHOTO BY TONI DAVIS

SEANC Asst. Communications Director

SEANC Executive Director Dana Cope, left, presents House Majority Leader Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam with a copy of the association’s 68-page report about the failures of prison health care privatization in 33 states and the District of Columbia.

threat were bolstered by hundreds of phone calls and emails made by SEANC members to voice their concerns to elected leaders. District 26 Chairman Stanley Gales, a DPS employee, called several legislators to underscore the public safety risk of privatizing inmate health care, saying, “People sometimes forget that privatizing a vital prison role puts the surrounding community at risk. These inmates need health care, but they also need it to be provided by someone who is properly trained for what can be a dangerous task.” In particular, SEANC would like to thank Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson) and Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake) who made the wise decision to invest in this core public service and the people who provide these health care services.

cedgar@seanc.org


Counselor’s Comments By Tom Harris

SEANC General Counsel

Why SPA Coverage Matters to You During every recent legislative session, some state agency or institution has tried to remove employees from State Personnel Act (SPA) coverage. Recently, it has been the UNC system. Since we can expect these attempts to continue, it is a good idea to review the reasons why SEANC members have consistently opposed removing state employees from the protections of the SPA system.

which they are adopted and amended is equally important. SEANC has a long track record of influence in the legislative process. A large number of SPA rights and benefits were suggested by SEANC, and many unwise and unwanted SPA changes have been successfully opposed by the association. Even when the State Personnel Commission adopts rules affecting SPA rights and benefits, the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) requires public hearings that provide SEANC with the opportunity to weigh in and either modify or completely block that proposed rule. Employees exempted from the SPA system often lack Harris the protections provided by those adoption processes. For example, the UNC system proposed in SB 575 that once their SPA employees What Does the SPA Protect? Important SPA rights were exempted from the SPA, the UNC State employees covered by the SPA system Board of Governors would be n Whistleblower protection system are guaranteed many rights, the most given the authority to adopt all UNC n Privacy of personnel records basic of which are the rights to be hired system personnel policies. However, n Freedom from illegal on the basis of merit and to be discharged since the UNC system is exempt from discrimination for disciplinary reasons only where there is the rulemaking requirements of the APA, n Priority promotion rights just cause. These two protections form the there is no statutorily-required process n Priority reemployment rights backbone of the merit-based personnel that includes a public hearing or the after reductions-in-force system that keeps North Carolina state opportunity for legislative review before n The right to have false government from becoming a “spoils” information removed from the policies they adopt become effective. personnel records system, where every newly-elected Moreover, the policies adopted by n Veterans’ preferences politician can clean house and hand out jobs the UNC system Board of Governors n A fair position classification to their friends. This merit system provides would lack the force of law that formally system North Carolina citizens with a government administrative rules have. For example, n Longevity pay staffed by experienced professionals who North Carolina courts have consistently n Severance pay can effectively and efficiently deliver the held, and the U.S. Supreme Court has n Vacation, sick leave and services they expect and deserve. recognized, that mere policies, as opposed holidays Courts recognize the SPA system’s to statutes, do not create for North Carolina just cause requirement as giving each public employee property rights in their jobs. career state employee a property right in their job – creating Most SEANC members would agree that the SPA system is an exception to the employer’s usual right to discharge an far from perfect. But this does not justify effectively repealing the employee at will. SPA by exempting large groups of employees from its coverage. Instead, any desirable changes should be made by amending the SPA itself in a manner that preserves both the legal enforceability SPA Rights = Protected by Law of SPA rights and benefits and legislative involvement in the These rights and benefits are backed by the law and, thus, process for amending those rights and benefits. are enforceable in the courts. It’s not just that these rights and benefits are important in their own merits, but the process by tharris@seanc.org

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The Reporter • July 2012


PUBLIC POLICY

North Carolina Gener al Assembly House of Representa tives

Representative Alice L. Bordsen 300 N. Salisbury Str 63rd District eet, Room 602 Raleigh, North Carol Ala ina 27603-5925 mance County April 25, 2012 Dear Mr. Cope,

I read with interest yo ur Point of View in the News and Observer am in complete agree today and ment with you about privatization of gove responsibilities. Aside rnment tasks/ from the failure of pri vatization to save mo other problems that ney, there are are created by priva tization of governmen We are moving down t services. a dangerous road as we buy the argumen government should be t that run like a business an d that we should priva whenever possible. tize There is no argumen t that honestly justifies dollars to guarantee using public private profit. I especially worry ab out the privatization of inmate medical. Th population is one tha is prison t seldom has advoca tes and is difficult to a population that is a work with. It is challenge for the Sta te workers who are em manage our inmate ployed to population, workers who are seldom suffic it is. We are required iently paid as to provide basic healt h care to our inmate will the oversight and s. But where advocates arise to ov ersee a for-profit entity we transfer that healt to which h care, an entity which has as its primary pu creation of a profitable rpose the return on the investm ent that created the potential for insufficie entity? The nt health care is enorm ous. The responsibility medical needs to rem for inmate ain with the State an d its employees. Sincerely, From: Sen. Ralph Hise Rep. Alice L. Bordsen

Legislators Praise SEANC’s Opposition of Prison Health Care Privatization Letter from Rep. Alice Bordsen (D-Alamance)

Date: April 25, 2012 2:53:43 PM EDT To: dcope@seanc.org Subject: Inmate health care

Email from Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell)

Dana, I read with interest your editorial in the News & Observer on the continued efforts of the Department of Public Safety to outsource prison health care. I have been trying to get a handle on and better understanding of this situation for the past few weeks and would welcome your suggestions and ideas on anything the legislature can do to slow down or halt this process. I can be reached by email, or please feel free to give me a call at my office or on my cell phone. I look forward to hearing from you at your convenience. Senator Ralph E. Hise, Jr. North Carolina Senate – 47th District

The Reporter • July 2012

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PUBLIC POLICY

Quotes to Note “It’s certainly not good for the taxpayers, and it’s not good for the prison systems and it’s not good for our employees.” SEANC Executive Director Dana Cope, referring to the failure of prison health care privatization in 33 states and the District of Columbia and how such an experiment in North Carolina would surely be a failure as well, in the May 23 WRAL-TV story, “NC House wants to go slow on prisoner health care.”

“Last year, they [House Republicans in Raleigh] made a promise to our seniors and retirees that they would fund retirement. Now they want to break that promise with a new budget that would take away money for things like food, medicine and rent.” Radio ad released in Raleigh on May 29 in response to the N.C. House Republicans’ budget proposal that breaks the promise made from last year’s budget to fund a cost-of-living adjustment for state retirees.

“It’s a broken promise. That’s not right.” SEANC Executive Director Dana Cope, criticizing House Speaker Thom Tillis for the absence of funding in the N.C. House budget for a costof-living increase for retirees, in the May 29 Associated Press article, “N.C. House panel eases school district funding cuts.”

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The Reporter • July 2012

@binker: Medicaid fix contains a provision ordering prisons to delay efforts to privatize prison health care. That’s a win for SEANC. #ncga Twitter post on May 23 from WRAL-TV investigative reporter Mark Binker, citing a victory for SEANC members when efforts to privatize the jobs of 2,000 prison health care workers were put on hold through language inserted to a bill that otherwise dealt with fixing Medicaid. The bill went straight to Gov. Beverly Perdue’s desk and she signed it into law on May 24.

“State employees and retirees have excellent memories come November!!” SEANC District 24 Chairwoman Anne Marie Bellamy, reminding legislators that the general election results in November may be affected by their current policy decisions, in a June 2 post on the SEANC Facebook page.

••• Be sure to “Like” SEANC on Facebook at facebook.com/seanc.Local2008 and follow the association’s Twitter feed @seanc2008. The best interactions will be included in Quotes to Note each month.


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The Reporter • July 2012

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SCHOLARSHIP FOUNDATION

Hit the Links for Those Hitting the Books by Jonathan

Owens

SEANC Communications Specialist

The Don Jones Memorial Golf Tournament returns this fall after a year off. Usually held on Father’s Day weekend, the event is scheduled for Aug. 10 this year at Keith Hills Country Club in Buies Creek. The tournament will be played in a fourplayer team, Captain’s Choice format. Players who enter as individuals will be placed with others in order to create teams. The tournament is open to anyone who wants to play, not just SEANC members. Proceeds from the tournament benefit the SEANC Scholarship Foundation. Entry fee is $50 per person or $200 per team entry. Mulligans will be available at $5 for two with a maximum of two per player. Hotel accommodations are available at a reduced rate at the Comfort Inn in FuquayVarina, approximately 25 miles away from the course.

Hole sponsorships are also available for a donation of $100. A sign will be placed on one of the tees advertising your sponsorship. Deadline for hole sponsorships is July 23, 2012. For more information on the tournament or for sponsorship opportunities, contact Renee Vaughan at 800-222-2758 or rvaughan@seanc.org.

jowens@seanc.org

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The Reporter • July 2012

Toni Davis, Editor-In-Chief Cary Edgar, Managing Editor Alicia Miller, Associate Editor Jonathan Owens, Associate Editor/Graphic Designer State Employees Association of North Carolina

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The Reporter, USPS 009-852 (ISSN 1069 2142), is published nine times a year in the months of February, March, April, May, June, July, September, November and December for $2.50 per year, per member, by the State Employees Association of North Carolina, Inc., P.O. Drawer 27727, Raleigh, NC 27611-7727. Periodicals postage paid at Raleigh, NC, and additional offices.

5/17/12 2:36 PM

SEANC accepts advertising material from companies and persons seeking to communicate with SEANC members. Acceptance of this advertising does not indicate SEANC approval or endorsement of any representation that the message, product or service is as represented by the advertiser. SEANC accepts no responsibility and shall not be liable for any use of or reliance on any such information, product or service. SEANC is a private entity and is under no obligation to carry advertisements of any nature, political or otherwise, that may be viewed as contrary to the interests of the association and its membership.


MEMBER ACTION

SEANC Pulls Double Duty at SEIU Convention By Toni Davis DENVER – While folks back home in North Carolina enjoyed the Memorial Day weekend, nearly 80 SEANC members joined 3,000 delegates from around the world at the 25th SEIU International Convention in Denver, Colo., May 28-30. The theme for the convention was “Lead. Unite. Fight. Win for the 99%.” Agenda items included a unity day for all public service members, election of officers and approval of a new Member Leadership and Action (MLA) program. SEANC members enjoyed meeting other state workers and sharing our past year’s victories. District 10 Chairwoman Kim Martin told delegates about SEANC’s successful Take Pride in Carolina campaign, where members compiled more than $10 billion in budget savings options that resulted in protecting members’ jobs in last year’s budget cycle. She also learned that North Carolina’s budget challenges were not unique to this state. Martin explained on the association’s Facebook page, “It is nice to know we are not in this alone. People across this nation are facing the same struggles we are in NC. They are also fighting for better pay and worker rights. WE ARE THE 99%.” Delegates highlighted the convention theme with a protest at Wells Fargo that drew thousands of marchers aiming to make wealthy corporations pay their fair share of taxes. SEANC’s delegates were also treated to a reception at the Colorado governor’s mansion along with fellow SEIU members from the South and Southwest.

PHOTO BY BRENDA HOOKER

SEANC Communications Director

Cope, Johnson Elected to Leadership Positions

The convention unanimously reelected SEIU President Mary Kay Henry and Public Services Executive Vice President Eileen Kirlin to four-year terms. SEANC Executive Director Dana Cope was elected as a vice president and President Charles Johnson was re-elected to the International Executive Board.

Ready, Set, Member Action!

Convention delegates approved a MLA program that will train thousands of members to lead activists who will work toward a fair economy by challenging wealthy corporations, winning elections and holding politicians accountable who stand with the 1 percent. Delegates to the SEANC convention in Greensboro this September will be trained in the new MLA program.

Delegates Make 500 Contacts to General Assembly

The N.C. House announced its budget while delegates were in Denver and the news wasn’t good (see back page article). In Raleigh, SEANC’s five lobbyists in the General Assembly and the communications staff worked overtime to send action alerts to members and field questions from the press. In

SEANC delegates attending the 25th SEIU International Convention in Denver, Colo. May 28-30, participate in a member parade to fight for the rights of middle class working families. Pictured, second and third from right, are District 10 Chairwoman Kim Martin and District 36 delegate Diane Carter.

SEIU Convention by the Numbers

n 1 SEANC delegate elected as an SEIU vice president n 1 SEANC delegate re-elected to the International Executive Board n 1 radio commercial written and aired – listen to it at http://bit.ly/JrVCiv n 200+ news articles where SEANC weighed in on the N.C. House budget n 78 SEANC delegates and guests n 500+ telephone calls made to N.C. House members

Denver, SEANC staff immediately set up a command center in the lobby of the convention hall and started selecting legislators for delegates to contact by telephone, email and social media in support of a pay raise and retiree cost-ofliving adjustments in the proposed budget. SEANC staff also wrote informational flyers for delegates and a radio commercial during the holiday weekend and had it on the air before the budget vote. District 19 Chairwoman Angela Lyght said, “It was awesome to see and hear us working as a team to handle business on the home front while being thousands of miles away!”

tdavis@seanc.org The Reporter • July 2012

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Periodical Postage PAID Raleigh, NC P.O. Drawer 27727 Raleigh, NC 27611

State Employees, Retirees Earn First Pay Raise Since 2008 SEANC Never Gave Up — Also Scored 5 Days of Vacation for State Workers by

Cary Edgar

SEANC Asst. Communications Director

For the first time since 2008, the state budget includes a pay raise for state employees, a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for retirees and five additional days of paid leave for state workers. The budget went to Gov. Beverly Perdue but she put state employees’ pay and public services at risk by choosing to veto it for the second year in a row. Legislators gathered in Raleigh before the July 4 holiday and voted to override her veto.

Differences Between Original House and Senate Budgets

The House budget contained a one-time $250 bonus plus five days of vacation days. Retirees were shut out entirely. The Senate budget offered a 1.2 percent raise to active state employees and a 1 percent COLA to retirees. The House

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The Reporter • July 2012

did not adopt the Senate’s budget and a House-Senate conference committee was appointed to iron out the differences.

SEANC Successfully Lobbies for Pay Raise + More Leave

SEANC lobbyists, at the direction of Executive Director Dana Cope, later scored another victory by gaining an additional five days of annual leave for state employees as part of a last-minute budget corrections bill. The finalized budget includes: n 1.2% base pay increase for state employees n 1% COLA for retirees n Five additional days of paid leave for active state workers SEANC Legislative Affairs Director Ardis Watkins told WRAL-TV on June 20, “(It) is not as much as we’d like to see,” regarding the 1.2 percent raise, “but the

Senate took a step in the right direction, and we’re glad to see the end result.” The veto override wouldn’t have been possible without the heroism of House Reps. Darren Jackson, Marcus Brandon and Marian McLawhorn. These legislators sided with public workers and voted in favor of overriding the veto. SEANC also thanks House and Senate leadership for working together on passing this budget. Rep. Darren Jackson spoke in favor of state workers on the House floor, saying, “I don’t represent the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. What I represent are my constituents. [A raise of] 1.2 percent is a lot to my constituents. I am not willing to leave it (the pay raise) here tonight, and that’s why I am going to vote to override.”

cedgar@seanc.org

July 2012 Reporter  
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